Fallen tilt-up panel lands $47K fine
A building company has been fined $47,000 after a 3.88-tonne tilt-up concrete panel fell from a building under construction onto a neighbouring carpark. Hanssen was found guilty of failing to ensure that work was directly supervised by a person who had completed an approved course for managers and supervisors on a site where tilt-up work was being done, in Perth Magistrates’ Court on 11 October, according to WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA). The company, which was also ordered to pay $1519 in costs, was also prosecuted for failing to comply with an improvement notice requiring it to have at least one member of staff certified as competent by completing an approved Supervise Tilt-up Work course.
WorkSafe WA said the May 2018 incident occurred when a labour hire worker — who was acting as an unlicensed surveyor, inspecting and co-ordinating construction activities at the Vue Tower project in East Perth — and an apprentice boiler maker attempted to dismount an out-of-line wall panel on the 34-storey apartment complex’s first floor. According to the regulator, the surveyor opted to use the site’s tower crane to take the weight of the three- by four-metre panel so they could realign it. After the two men unbolted the timber connecting the panel to the one below, the surveyor — leaving the site — instructed the apprentice to locate the socket needed to unbolt the temporary props supporting the wall.
Once unbolted, the panel fell from the building into a carpark on the adjacent property and crushed two cars. Fortunately, no-one was harmed. An improvement notice was issued to Hanssen shortly after, requiring it to have a member of staff complete an approved Supervise Tilt-up Work course. Despite being granted an extension, the notice was not complied with until early September, WorkSafe WA said.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the case was yet another reminder of the need for strict requirements around the tilt-up construction industry. “It’s crucial that anybody working in the tilt-up industry undergoes the appropriate training,” Kavanagh said. “Tilt-up construction is identified as high-risk work for a good reason, and in this case, it was extremely fortunate that no-one was in the vicinity of the falling concrete panel that day.
“WorkSafe has specific regulations for tilt-up construction, and building companies need to ensure they are complying with the requirements of the legislation. Since 2008, there has been a National Code of Practice for Precast, Tilt-up and Concrete Elements in Building Construction that needs to be followed in every workplace where tilt-up construction is taking place. Hanssen had previously been convicted of two breaches of the same regulation in 2009 and fined $20,000 per breach for failing to ensure that the appropriate training had been completed. The company was also issued an improvement notice in May 2011, once again requiring it to train workers in tilt-up supervision.
“Clearly, the company has not got the message over the 10 years since its first conviction under this section of the legislation. Tilt-up construction can be a hazardous activity, and it’s vital that both workers and members of the public are protected from any potential incidents involving falling concrete panels,” he concluded.
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